Archive | February 2015

Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 12

Welcome back! Always a pleasure seeing you here. Flash fiction madness, you know, isn’t limited to writers; I can’t count the number of Fridays I’ve spent refreshing my screen after 12:01am, eager to read your stories. Some nights, depending on how long a week it’s been, I even make bets with myself as to whose the first story will be. That’s right, folks; never a dull moment here at the dragons’ lair! And yes, there’s coffee. Plenty of coffee, it turns out. (How did you know?!) 

WALL OF FLAME: Today is the final day to earn eligibility for the February #RingofFire badge (you need to have participated at Flash! Friday at least three times in February). Please remember eligibility starts fresh each calendar month; let us know ASAP once you’ve earned it, to keep your name on that fiery wall. If you missed out, no worries; a brand new month starts in just a few days! Details here.



DC2Judging today is Dragon Team Four, consisting of powerful, keen-eyed dragon captains Pratibha & Sinéad O’Hart. No misbehaving here; these captains will keep us ON TASK and marching in fierce, battle-like determination all the way to 200 words! “Show me why I should care about your characters,” says Sinéad, “and how the their lives will be altered once the dust of your story settles.” –“The human mind,” says Pratibha, “is still an unexplored frontier. I look for fleshed out characters and flowing narrative that delivers a nice punch.” GAME ON, CAPTAINS!  


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

Now, grab your umbrella/tent/anti-Nature-weapon, and let’s go!

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.


(1) Required story element (this week: conflict. The below conflict must represent your story’s primary conflict. Note that “man” is used in its gender neutral sense):



(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:


Shipwreck of the United Malika in Cap Blanc, Mauritania. CC photo by Jbdodane.

Shipwreck of the United Malika in Cap Blanc, Mauritania. CC photo by Jbdodane.

Sixty Seconds IV with: Phil Coltrane

The normal routine’s ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer, which is (in theory) less time than it takes to burn a match.

However, winning four times isn’t normal.

Consider yourselves warned.


Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Phil Coltrane for the FOURTH time (his first three wins were within an astonishing few weeks of each other in Year Two).  Read his winning story here. Note that this is his FOURTH win, which only three others at Flash! Friday have done (Maggie Duncan, Betsy Streeter, and Karl Russell). Mega congrats, Phil! Read his first #SixtySeconds interview heresecond one here, and third one hereThen take another couple of minutes to know him better below.

Phil says, Since this week marks my fourth win, the Dragon General has kindly loosened the shackles that typically bind each week’s winners to keep their answers brief. Therefore, the next sixty seconds may stretch slightly longer than usual as I indulge in some immodest grandstanding. {Editor’s Note: FYI: grandstanding is one of a dragon’s favorite pastimes. Proceed with abandon.}

1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece? 

The Moon naturally suggests sci-fi to me, so to be contrary, I went in another direction. For some reason, I associate black-and-white photographs with winter, and the story followed from there. 

2) Tell us about this past year in your writing life.  

Last year was busy for writing: I set a broad goal to “write more.”

I started my writing blog, FTL Pizza. I found “Flash! Friday,” made it a personal goal to participate for a whole year, and ended up judging over the summer. I wrote for Alissa Leonard’s “Finish That Thought” and Chuck Wendig‘s weekly challenges a couple times each.

Overall I’m pleased with my progress on that “write more” goal. (But that novel is still unfinished.)

3) How was this latest NaNoWriMo for you? Planning to join again this year?

It’s a cheat, but I used NaNoWriMo to rewrite an existing project. November was so hectic that I never finished. My novel still waits on my hard drive, stuck in the limbo between first and second draft. I will definitely give NaNoWriMo another shot this year.

4) How has your flash fiction writing changed since you started? 

Being a judge changed my approach more than anything else. My writing process still starts with sitting on the couch, brainstorming and wondering if I’ll meet the deadline; but now I try harder to think of a unique take on the prompt. Writing a good story isn’t enough for this contest: you also have to make it different enough that it stands apart from all the other good stories.

Killing all humans seems to be a winner, too. {Editor’s Note: The Dragon Captains assure me that’s just a coincidence. (As coincidental as their recent sprouting of scales, I’m thinking.)}

5) Read anything good recently?

In a recent Warmup Wednesday I mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos stories. Other than that, my reading consists of whatever short stories I can squeeze into my snippets of spare time.

6) Any favorite writers?

This may be strange, but the writing I’ve really come to appreciate is the comments on the FF stories each week. Back when I was judging, I often fumbled for words to explain why I liked a particular story. I continue to be astounded by the few folks who give constructive feedback on nearly every story, week after week. I don’t always remember to thank people who leave comments, but to the people who do so, thank you.

7) What are your writerly hopes for this next year?

To write more and better content for FTL Pizza. To branch into other writing contests. Dare I entertain the notion that I could write something for publication? Maybe someday.

8) You’re a four time winner. Any advice/encouragement for writers waiting their turn to wear the crown?

Winning isn’t a science or a black art: there’s no simple formula, and very little conjuring of ancient Sumerian demons. Keep writing the best stories you can, try to learn new lessons each week, and don’t try to chase the win. 

9) Your turn. Anything you’d like to add, anything you’ve got going on that you’d like to discuss, anything the FF community just NEEDS to know??

If I may step up onto my soapbox for a moment, I’d like to use my sixty seconds of fame to call attention to a rather serious matter. Each week as Friday rolls around, we gather as a community of writers and create stories. Stories of love, of laughter, of life, stories that inspire and uplift. 

But has anyone considered the dark side of Flash! Friday? All of the wars, murders, assassinations, revenge killings, humorous accidental deaths, and dragon-related charbroilings that take place in our stories, week after deadly week? Have we stopped to calculate the FF community’s story body count? Does no one fret over all of these literal character assassinations? 

Why, I myself have killed off all of humankind on at least three separate Fridays. I know that some of you are just as guilty. Can we not do better? I dream of a kinder, gentler FF, where dragons and humans are not lethal adversaries, but instead live side-by-side in peace, and invite each other to their barbecues, where they eat unicorn burgers and Cadbury chocolate sundaes around a circular picnic table while all the kids and squids play tiddlywinks and make paper lanterns together beneath the light of Earth’s yellow sun, and…

Um… I think it’s time for me to hand the mic back over to our host. {Editor’s Note: I trust my spontaneous bonfire demonstration didn’t overly alarm you.}

Warmup Wednesday!

Directions: Write a scene or an entire story of 100 words on the nose (no more, no fewer), inspired by this photograph. No judging. All fun. (Normal Flash! Friday guidelines regarding content apply.)
Don’t forget to add your Twitter handle & link to your blog, if you please. And a few words on how your week’s going would be nice.

This week’s challenge: Incorporate at least three shades of red.

Bus stop. CC photo by 5demayo.

Bus stop. CC photo by 5demayo.